\ˈthred \

Definition of thread 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a filament, a group of filaments twisted together, or a filamentous length formed by spinning and twisting short textile fibers into a continuous strand

b : a piece of thread

2a : any of various natural filaments the threads of a spiderweb

b : a slender stream (as of water)

c : a projecting helical rib (as in a fitting or on a pipe) by which parts can be screwed together : screw thread

3 : something continuous or drawn out: such as

a : a line of reasoning or train of thought that connects the parts in a sequence (as of ideas or events) lost the thread of the story

b : a continuing element a thread of melancholy marked all his writing

c : a series of electronic messages (as on a message board or social media website) following a single topic or in response to a single message

4 : a tenuous or feeble support hung on by a thread

5 threads plural : clothing


threaded; threading; threads

Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to pass a thread through the eye of (a needle)

b : to arrange a thread, yarn, or lead-in piece in working position for use in (a machine)

2a(1) : to pass something through in the manner of a thread thread a pipe with wire

(2) : to pass (something, such as a tape, line, or film) into or through something threaded a fresh roll of film into the camera

b : to make one's way through or between threading narrow alleys also : to make one's way usually cautiously through a hazardous situation

3 : to put together on or as if on a thread : string thread beads

4 : to interweave with or as if with threads : intersperse dark hair threaded with silver

5 : to form a screw thread on or in

intransitive verb

1 : weave sense 2 the car threaded through traffic

2 : to form a thread

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Other Words from thread


threadless \ˈthred-ləs \ adjective
threadlike \ˈthred-ˌlīk \ adjective


threader noun

Examples of thread in a Sentence


A thread was hanging from the hem of her coat. the unwary bug was snared in the sticky threads of the spider's web


She threaded her shoelace through the holes. thread film through a camera They had to thread their way through the crowd. Waiters threaded through the crowd. a river that threads through narrow valleys
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yerry Mina's stoppage time equaliser in that game pushed the odds back to 6/1, while England were then briefly at an enormous 20/1 after Jordan Henderson missed in the penalty shootout meant that the team's chances suddenly were hanging by a thread., "Timeline of Hope and Glory: How England's Odds of Winning the World Cup Have Changed in 6 Months," 11 July 2018 Later updates in the same thread showed that other users were also experiencing browser freezes. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Tech-support scammers revive bug that sends Chrome users into a panic," 4 July 2018 The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel and Cathleen Decker highlighted Ryan’s seeming departure from his standard reactions, in a thread on Twitter. Li Zhou, Vox, "Paul Ryan has no problem going after Maxine Waters — even as he evades Steve King’s misdeeds," 26 June 2018 The country’s World Cup hopes hang by a thread: not of winning it, but of merely qualifying for the knockout rounds, of avoiding immense embarrassment. Rory Smith, New York Times, "How Argentina Lost Its Way. (Spoiler: It’s Not Messi’s Fault.)," 22 June 2018 Either way, the light-wash jeans appeared to be hanging together by a thread, so to speak. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Are Trashy-Chic, Extreme Ripped Jeans Officially Back?," 21 June 2018 And if that answer is no, then you’re stuck listening to them rattle on about their Twitter threads for at least one full drink. Maria Del Russo, The Cut, "Why Won’t Any of My Friends Set Me Up?," 12 July 2018 And that's exactly what Blair did — and her thread’s enthusiastic followers fueled the flames. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, "The Problem With "Plane Bae" and Using Strangers for Entertainment," 11 July 2018 There’s now a problem with the advertising for NBA 2K19, which features LeBron James in his old Cavaliers threads, and one GameSpot fixed it: But as for the LeBron cover? Charles Curtis, For The Win, "'NBA 2K19' had a brilliant solution to its LeBron James free agency problem," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This attempt to thread an admittedly difficult needle doesn't really hold up to scrutiny. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Op-ed: Valve takes a side by not “taking sides” in curation controversy," 7 June 2018 But Baffert had an ambitious plan to thread the needle: Win the debut, come back in three weeks in a one-mile allowance, then go into the deep water in the Santa Anita Derby. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Bob Baffert's latest Kentucky Derby win with Justify may be his greatest training feat," 6 May 2018 The composer threaded in references and allusions to liturgical music from the Russian Orthodox Church, heroic marches, as well as to film music and popular waltzes. John Adamian,, "HSO Plays Shostakovich At The Bushnell," 28 Apr. 2018 His encounters with the locals are mostly hilarious and vividly observed, threaded with the types of details that foreigners see as bizarre and Russians tend to ignore as routine. Simon Shuster, Time, "To Understand Russia, Read A Terrible Country," 12 July 2018 As the show’s 80 or so works, video slide shows and film clips demonstrate, rarely has an optical phenomenon threaded its way through so many aspects of modern culture, from mass-market fads to avant-garde art. Susan Delson, WSJ, "In a Los Angeles Exhibition, 3-D in All Its Dimensions," 29 June 2018 Lazio restored its lead four minutes from the break as Senad Lulic threaded a ball through for Felipe Anderson to race forward and fire into the bottom left corner. Daniella Matar,, "Serie A Recap: Inter take last Champions League spot from Lazio with late comeback," 20 May 2018 Every so often, a happy announcement would puncture the monotony: A train was up and running — and people responded by threading through the crowd toward their track at a brisk pace. Matt Stevens,, "Storms cut deadly swath across New York, Connecticut," 17 May 2018 Using thin skewers or long toothpicks, assemble 16 banderillas, threading 1 cheese cube, 1 quail egg, 1 cornichon, 1 pickled onion, and 1 piquillo strip on each. Jonah Miller, WSJ, "Throw a Summer Party the Effortless Spanish Way," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thread.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thread


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for thread


Middle English thred, from Old English thrǣd; akin to Old High German drāt wire, Old English thrāwan to cause to twist or turn — more at throw entry 1

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Phrases Related to thread

hang by a thread

pick up the threads

Statistics for thread

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thread

The first known use of thread was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for thread



English Language Learners Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long, thin piece of cotton, silk, etc., used for sewing

: a long, thin line of something

: the raised line that winds around a screw



English Language Learners Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a thread, string, rope, etc., through a hole in something

: to put (film or tape) into a movie camera, tape recorder, etc., so that it is ready to be used

: to move forward by turning and going through narrow spaces


\ˈthred \

Kids Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a thin fine cord formed by spinning and twisting short fibers into a continuous strand

2 : a thin fine line or strand of something a thread of light

3 : the ridge or groove that winds around a screw

4 : a train of thought that connects the parts of something (as an argument or story)

Other Words from thread

threadlike \-ˌlīk \ adjective


threaded; threading

Kids Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a thread in working position (as in a needle)

2 : to pass something through another thing Thread the film through the camera.

3 : to make a way through or between He rushes on and on … threading his way with perfect skill between tree-trunks …— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

4 : to put together on a thread : string

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